The secret ingredients to building strong relationships

Building a great relationship is like baking a cake. No cake is the same — everyone has their preferences for flavours, texture, layers, toppings, etc. But for a cake to taste good, you need a few staple ingredients like flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and milk. From there, you can make it your own — red velvet, vanilla, carrot cake — the sky’s the limit!

The same goes for relationships. Everyone has different wants and needs, so what might work for one couple may not work for another. But for a relationship to be strong, it needs staple ingredients like trust, commitment, communication, appreciation, and fun. If you miss an ingredient while baking a cake, it won’t rise or taste as good. This is also true for relationships. Without one of the staple ingredients, the relationship won’t be as successful or healthy. But how you choose to use these ingredients can change depending on your relationship and preferences.  

This blog explores different ways you can try using these “relationship ingredients”. Even the best bakers try new methods to spice up their recipes. Use this as an opportunity to connect with your partner, try new things, have fun, and figure out what works best for your relationship. 

Trust and commitment

Trust and commitment are the foundation of any relationship, especially romantic ones. Trust isn’t just about being faithful. It’s also about being honest with your partner and yourself about any aspect of your life. For example, if you can’t honestly tell your partner how you’re feeling or if something is bothering you, the issue can’t be fixed. When trust is broken in a relationship it can be difficult to build that trust back. If trust has been broken in your relationship, it can be helpful to seek counselling. Working with a professional can help you and your partner build skills as a couple so that you can work towards repairing the relationship.  


Effective communication is essential for every couple and can look different for each relationship. Start by discussing your communication preferences with your partner and find a style that works for both of you. Feeling safe and comfortable to openly express your feelings and needs is key. Practice proactive communication by regularly updating your partner on how you're feeling and what's on your mind.

If conflicts arise, schedule a time to talk and use “I-statements” to avoid blaming and defensiveness. For example, instead of saying “You always leave dirty dishes in the sink” you could say “I feel frustrated when the dishes pile up because it makes me feel overwhelmed”. It's okay to take time to process intense emotions or thoughts during a conversation. You can always return to the discussion once you've had a chance to collect your thoughts.

Appreciation for the small things

After you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it’s easy to forget to let your partner know all the reasons, big and little, that you appreciate them. Paying attention to your partner and making them feel valued and important is crucial for strong relationships. Try telling your partner something every day that you’re grateful for about them and why. This can be as simple as saying, “I appreciated it when you were playful today because it made me happy and laugh.” This will remind your partner that they’re appreciated and valued. It also shows your gratitude for being in a relationship with them.  

happy couple laughing together on vacation

Bringing back the fun into your relationship  

The strongest relationships are built on friendship. Your partner should be one of your best friends. When you think about your friendships, most of them are fun and bring us joy! Making time for fun is key for strong relationships. Dedicate time to creating experiences with your partner. This brings you together as a team and makes you enjoy spending time together. Try something new like mini golf, cooking classes, game night — the options are endless. It doesn’t need to be elaborate- even a simple night of cooking and watching a movie together can be fun. Adding an element of surprise, like bringing home your partner’s favourite candy or leaving them notes to find that will make them laugh, is another way to bring back the fun.

It’s important to remember that every relationship will have its ups and downs, and that’s normal. While these ingredients are meant to help you and your partner strengthen your relationship, it’s okay if you need help — sometimes getting help can make a big difference. Counselling can be a great way to dive deeper into these topics and find the tools that work best for you and your partner. If you want to learn more about the ingredients to strong relationships, listen to our Living Fully podcast episode and Facebook live

Information for this blog was provided by registered social worker, Anna Hemens.

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